When choosing the career path of a traveling nurse it’s imperative that you possess certain professional qualities. For instance, as a travel nurse you typically are not in one location for more than 13 weeks at a time at that means you must be able to jump into your new assignment running. You are given only a couple days (at most) of orientation to learn how to chart, where things are and so forth, after which you are expected to start contributing to the team and begin doing the job you were sent there to do. Remember, while on assignment you are an ambassador of the nursing profession, the agency that got you the job, your peers and more importantly, yourself. Your skills and knowledge may not be in question, but your outwardly appearances and professionalism may be.
Your actions, appearance, voice inflection, and ability to convey empathy and concern all play a role in your image. If your demeanor is an issue shortly after arriving to your new assignment, it’s going to make for a long 13 weeks, not only for you but for those you’ll be working with. Here are a few areas that you can work on adjusting to help the way others perceive you.
1. Professional work environment and interactions
3. Collegiality/team member role
4. Professional accountabilities
Being the new person is never the easiest thing to get use to. You may be nervous and it can be hard to be yourself at first, but just remember to do just that, be yourself. Just be positive. Don’t speak of things in open areas where the possibility of patients, families or other co-workers may hear them. Take those conversations elsewhere, away from the viewing public. Also, don’t exhibit any behaviors in front of them that may be questionable either. Respect the people around you as well as the facility itself. You did not pay for any of the equipment in the hospital but that is no excuse to treat it poorly. A lot of the machines and devices are very expensive and you should act as if you had paid for them, this is one great way to show respect to the hospital and your peers. You are a caring person and this doesn’t just have to pertain to the patients.
They say never judge a book by a cover, but what about a traveling nurse? Do you think you are judged by the way you present yourself on the first day of your assignment? In a perfect world you wouldn’t be, but this place ain’t perfect. Remember, your appearance largely affects the perception of your qualifications. Wear what you think would garner the respect you deserve. Follow the facilities dress codes and separate yourself from the unlicensed members of the healthcare team. You want to be remembered for the way you act, not the way you look.
Being a positive team member can and will work wonders for the way you are received on your next traveling nurse assignment. Lending a hand, or offering to help is one way to prove your commitment to your team and patient care. At the same time, maybe your ideas are not the answer and so you must be able to accept constructive criticism and feedback. You can’t be right all the time and if you are you need to get yourself on Jeopardy or something! Just think to yourself… How could anyone respect me if I don’t respect myself?
There’s no one else to hold accountable for the way you are perceived other than yourself. It’s your nursing license, not anyone elses. Remember you are a healthcare professional, act like one.